On this Sunday and during the week we focus on this theme - that those who are baptized into Christ Jesus and in the Name of the Father & the Son and the Holy Ghost are to exhibit Gospel righteousness and to love God supremely.
The EPISTLE (Romans 6:3-11) begins a series of readings of St Paul's Epistles which continues to the end of the Trinity season. And these selections follow the canonical order of the Epistles as they are found in the New Testament.
In this reading Paul teaches us the meaning of Baptism and its implication for living the Christian life daily. Believers are united to Christ Jesus not only in his Resurrection life, giving them new and eternal life, but also, and very importantly, in his death unto sin and his burial. Thus, in and by Christ, they have the victory over sin and its effects and they are to show this in their victorious living as faithful Christians and churchmembers. Meditating daily upon the objective relation that they have in Christ ("Reckon ye yourselves.") is a key to the life of humility and victory.
The GOSPEL (Matthew 5:20-26) provides us with the exposition of the Sixth Commandment by our Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, it is much more than avoiding the outward act of killing/murdering a human being. Anger, hatred, malice, an unforgiving and an un-reconciling spirit are as much ways in which the command is broken in God's sight as is the physical act of murder. The latter has usually greater side effects but the former poison human relations in world and (regrettably) church. True righteousness is much more than outward conformity to divine law (even though this is important) it is also the conformity of the heart and mind and will to that law.
The COLLECT points us not only to the first commandment (to love the Holy Trinity with all our beings) but also to the supreme experience of total delight awaiting the believing and obedient disciple after the resurrection of the dead - to enjoy and glorify God for ever in the company of the redeemed and the angelic orders in the perfect setting of heaven, where all behold the glory of the Father in the face of the Incarnate Son and serve him in every deepening ways for all eternity. This is a Collect that we can pray daily for the rest of our life on this earth and never exhaust its meaning!
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor, England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large of The Prayer Book Society of America